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Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center to Expand
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor
2018-07-12

"Honoring the Past … Building for the Future" Campaign Begins Sunday

 

An artist's rendering shows the view from the rear of the existing structure.
SLHC Executive Director Dave Luz stands on the site where the "bank" barn will be constructed.

 

           Truly one of the gems of the Upper Perkiomen Valley, the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center (SLHC) preserves and presents a history of Schwenkfelder Church as well as the region.  They do so with a passion and professionalism that is on display to every visitor.

            More than 9,000 visitors are welcomed each year at the SLHC.  They come to enjoy the collections and conduct genealogical research; they are local historians and international scholars.  More than 100 educational programs are offered each year to children and adults.

            It has been written that "Nothing replaces the authenticity of the object presented with passionate scholarship. Bringing people face-to-face with historical objects is a way of bringing them face-to-face with people across time, across space, whose lives may have been different from our own but who, like us, have hopes and dreams, frustrations and achievements in their lives."

            What began in the 1880's as a collection of books and manuscripts kept in a home and mostly pertaining to the Schwenkfelder Church, has grown to become a well-known research facility and museum.

            The problem with historical collections is that with the passing of time, the number of artifacts grows and so does the space needed to present the history.

            The Schwenkfelder collection was moved to the Carnegie Library at the Perkiomen Seminary School in 1913.  The building was designed to provide floor space and housing for the collection of historical materials.

            Continued growth was inevitable and a building was constructed at 105 Seminary St. in Pennsburg, and dedicated in 1951 - it was the Schwenkfelder Library.  While documents were moved into the new building for storage and research use, the museum collection remained in the Carnegie Library building.

            In 2001, a large addition for storage and exhibition of the museum collection was added and renamed the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center.  It is the facility we know today.

            Now, it's time to grow again.

            This Sunday, officials of the Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage (SLHC) Center will be launching a $3.6 million capital campaign to increase the size of the museum by 50% and move an historic bank barn onto its campus. 

            According to a statement released by SLHC Campaign Manager Rachel Osborn, the Center's success has caused it to outgrow its exhibition, education, storage, research, and conservation space. To address this problem, a two-level, 12,150-square-foot addition will be built.

            Also, an early 19th century barn from the Seipt family home in Towamencin will be moved to the Pennsburg site.  The barn is from the homestead of Honorary Campaign Chair Fred Seipt of Lansdale.  Seipt is the founder of Freddy Hill Farms.  The barn will be disassembled, relocated, restored and made accessible to visitors via a walkway from the main museum building.

            The plan will allow expansion of collections and will make a far larger portion of the Heritage Center's holdings visible to the public. It will also allow new exhibitions of rural life and entrepreneurship, with significant artifacts that demonstrate the impact of early immigrant settlers far beyond the Perkiomen Valley region, including a 19th century Conestoga wagon acquired from the Valley Forge National Historic Park.

            In addition to the barn, the plan features an expanded library, new rural life gallery, and new rural entrepreneurship gallery.  Also, the existing patio on the original façade will be extended to create a new Board/Meeting Room.

            According to SLHC Executive Director Dave Luz construction, hopefully, should begin around the end of August and complete in the fall of 2019.  He thanked borough officials for their help in moving the project along saying, "Pennsburg Borough is very supportive of the Heritage Center in general and especially of this project."

            "Appearing at Borough Council meetings has always been a very positive experience for me – all the members are encouraging of the Heritage Center and view the Heritage Center as a strong asset to the Upper Perkiomen Valley community.  The Borough staff has also been very helpful in assisting us as we move through the process of obtaining official borough approvals."

            For more information about the "Honoring the Past … Building for the Future" capital campaign, please contact Dave Luz or Rachel Osborn at 215-679-3103 or info@schwenkfelder.com.


 

 

 

 

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